It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of perfection, it was the age of winlessness.
The Villanova Wildcats and the Delaware Blue Hens were set to meet again. The Wildcats entered Sunday’s game fresh off of a Legends Classic championship. Meanwhile, the Blue Hens were blown out by Stanford. Unlike this year’s other “Battle of the Blue,” there was a decisive victor. Delaware was just another opponent standing in Villanova’s way as they traverse through their regular season schedule.
The Wildcats made the first basket and never looked back. Daniel Ochefu had a nice jump hook that smoothly fell through the basket. He immediately followed it up with a dunk off of a nice feed by JayVaughn Pinkston. Villanova quickly got out to a 15-4 lead that forced Delaware head coach Monte Ross to call a time out. The Wildcats would cool off after the quick break. Aside from a pair of free throws by Dylan Ennis, they failed to make a single basket for approximately six minutes. During this time, Delaware’s Kory Holden began to heat up. The freshman guard sunk four straight shots to cut into Villanova’s lead, making it 17-12. Jay Wright would call a time out and point his team back into the right direction. Villanova would end the first half on a 17-4 run that was capped off by a last second Josh Hart layup in traffic. The sophomore had to work for it. He collected the offensive rebound off of the miss by Darrun Hilliard and sunk the shot with pressure all around. Villanova took a 34-16 lead into the half.
The Blue Hens struggled to sink their shots, going 7-for-27 (25.9%). It was even worse from beyond the arc, where they were 1-for-13. Cazmon Hayes made the lone three pointer for Delaware. Villanova was slightly better from long range, shooting 4-for-14 in the first half. While it wasn’t their best showing, they found other ways to put points on the board. Daniel Ochefu was great in the post, he had 10 of his 12 points in the first half alone.
Villanova came out firing on all cylinders. Everyone got involved in a 10-0 run that padded their lead. The streak was finally broken by Cazmon Hayes, when he stole the ball and took it to the basket for a dunk. At this point, the lead was too grand for the Blue Hens. Their struggles continued as the gap increased. Another prolonged dry spell allowed the Wildcats to push their lead into the 30s. In the first half, Villanova excelled inside. Delaware looked to close down and take away those chances in the paint, this simply opened up the perimeter. The outside shots started to fall and the Blue Hens were doomed.
At this point in time, the Wildcats were able to ride the momentum caused by their big lead all the way to the finish line. The insurmountable scoring margin was a reflection of their complete control of the game. Crisp, excellent ball movement picked apart the Delaware defense. The Wildcats were able to capitalize off of the open opportunities that they provided for each other. The same couldn’t be said for the Blue Hens. While they had some great looks, the inability to knock down key shots hurt their chances to stay in the game and win. Desperation took over and their game plan shifted into isolation “hero” basketball. More often than not, it never works. The 21-9 edge in assists reflected this, as Villanova eased their way to a 78-47 victory.
For Villanova, everyone got a piece of the action. Darrun Hilliard looked like himself out there. The senior scored 12 points, including three baskets from long range. Daniel Ochefu finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Dylan Ennis had 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Both Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart had productive days off the bench. Jenkins nailed four three pointers en route to a team-high 13 points. Hart chipped in 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists. As for the Bench Mob, Kevin Rafferty sank a layup off of a nice assist by Henry Lowe.
On the other hand, Delaware was led by Cazmon Hayes. He had a game-high 17 points off of 6-for-21 shooting. Devonne Pinkard had 11 points and a pair of rebounds. Kory Holden added eight points, but struggled to hang onto the ball. Holden turned the ball over seven times.
Villanova improves to 6-0. They will take on Big 5 rival La Salle this Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m.